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By Juliet Izon | April 19, 2017 | People
Beloved by kids and kids-at-heart since his 1990s show, Bill Nye the Science Guy, witty educator and engineer Bill Nye is set to thrill an entirely new audience when his Netflix talk show, Bill Nye Saves the World, premieres on April 21 (“Earth Day eve,” as Nye reminded us). We sat down with Nye to chat about issues close to his heart, including wind power, running for president, and… pointe shoes.
What can we do to convince you to run for President?
BILL NYE: Here’s what I used to say about the person you’d want to run for President: You’d want somebody with some government experience. That’s what I used to say—now, I am flabbergasted. You have to have people that really like that stuff, that are really into it. Although I have opinions, it’s not the same. Crafting that language, it’s really a hard job, a serious job. Somebody’s really got to have an interest in it. I’d be a one-issue guy—I’d be all about climate change. That’s not entirely true, I’m exaggerating. Yeah, I’ll run for president, sure.
We heard it here first.
BN: But before I do that, I’m going to finish this interview.
That’s fair. Tell us more about the genesis of your show.
BN: Well, any civilized television person wants his own talk show. So, I got my own talk show now, thanks to Netflix!
What tips do you have for people who want to be environmentally conscious?
BN: See, this is the deal. I’m with you, don’t get me wrong. But that idea is kind of historical. Are there little things we can do every day to preserve the environment? Sure, don’t waste water bottles, don’t waste paper, don’t waste water, don’t leave the lights on, all those sorts of things are important. But what we need are big things—we need renewable electricity on industrial scales. The big unexploited research is wind off the East [coast]. We want big wind turbines from Guadalajara to Nova Scotia, and that takes commitment. The same permits and regulations that are applied to coal fire plants, nuclear plants, and gas plants, would be applied to wind turbine plants; if we did that, innovations would happen. So, I say to the current administration, this is an opportunity for domestic jobs. You could buy turbine blades from Sweden, let’s say, hypothetically. But if you’re going to erect them someplace, they have to be done here, on native soil, with native workers doing work. A traditional, what you might think of as blue collar or a working man’s job. You need welders, lineman—like the Wichita lineman guy in the song—and industrial planners. And we can do this, but you can’t do it while you’re nurturing or nursing the fossil fuel industry and providing all kinds of tax breaks. So, I don’t think the current administration’s approach to energy is sustainable. I don’t think they’re going to be able to deny climate change much longer. And by much longer, I mean I don’t think they can do it for another two election cycles.
Is it important to get kids interested in wind power?
BN: I see this all the time. If you want people to recycle bottles, get their kids interested in recycling and they’ll just be a pain in the neck until the parents recycle the freaking bottles. That’s just how it is. If you get kids excited about renewable energy, they will pressure their parents into it. With that said, I think we’re seeing the last gasp of climate change denial. It’s almost entirely generational. There are very few young people who are in denial about climate change.
On a much lighter note, you hold a patent for designing a pointe shoe. Tell us about that.
BN: Yes! Years ago, on Bill Nye the Science Guy, we did a show on bones and muscles. And we went to the Pacific Northwest Ballet, which is in Seattle. It’s a very well-respected ballet and it’s known for its ladies having especially high arches. These are young people with all these crazy injuries [from dancing]. The toe shoe hasn’t changed in centuries. If you’ve ever watched a ballerina work, she takes the shoe and breaks it at a specific place so that it’ll form a platform—so I just got to thinking about it. And I got a patent on it. Once in a while, somebody gets interested in it. And you run around, you make prototypes, trying to get the company excited about it, but so far I have not been able to make it go, because I have other things. Now I have my own talk show!
PHOTOGRAPHY BY EDDY CHEN/NETFLIX
May 3, 2017